Update 3:30 p.m.: Two downed power lines in an alley behind 1134 Oak Ave. knocked out power to parts of Evanston this afternoon and touched off a fire in a garage behind the home.

Update 3:30 p.m.: Two downed power lines in an alley behind 1134 Oak Ave. knocked out power to parts of Evanston this afternoon and touched off a fire in a garage behind the home.

Firefighters drain their hoses in the smoky alley after extinguishing the garage fire.

The power outage, which started around 2:15 p.m., appeared to extend from roughly Main Street north to Dempster Street and from Chicago Avenue west to Ridge Avenue.

The cause of the downed lines wasn’t immediately clear, but may have been related to heavy electric loads on the hot summer afternoon.

The power failure knocked out traffic signals at Ridge and Greenleaf Street and Ridge and Dempster.

By shortly after 3 p.m. the fire had been extinguished, but there was no indication of when power might be restored.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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6 Comments

  1. Power is Back

    I live close to the fire and had my power out all afternoon, but it’s on now shortly before 8pm.

  2. You gotta be kidding me?!?

    Really? Two downed power lines and I’m without power for 6 hours? You’ve got to be kidding me! Geesh! Is this Evanston or Mayberry RFD? 

  3. Really???

    The cause of the downed lines wasn’t immediately clear, but may have been related to heavy electric loads on the hot summer afternoon.

     

    HEAVY electrical loads caused the lines to fall?  Really?  Who would’a thunk…

    Last time I checked the ELECTRICAL load on the wires had nothing to do with the PHYSICAL load on the wires.  Someone’s been yanking Bill’s wire with an old story- next we’ll be hearing about 100′ of shore line, blinker fluid, left-handed wind shifters, and knuteson valves.

     

    tongue now removed from cheek

     

    1. Heavy use on wires

      Heavy use on wires can cause them to sag. The increased electical load causes the metal in the wire to heat up and expand thus making the lines sag.

  4. Not the Whole Story

    The first power outage hit our neighborhood block Sunday morning at 3:00 a.m. and lasted until around 5:30 a.m.  So, it is somewhat dumbfounding how that could have been due to downed wires and a fire that occurred more than 10 hours later.  As for Sunday afternoon/evening, those of us who live on Michigan Avenue, between South Blvd. and Main St. (note:  that’s SOUTH of Main and EAST of Chicago Ave.) were without power for six hours along with around 1,000 other customers according to my conversations with the good folks at Com Ed.  The good news is that the electricity went back on just in time to set those alarm clocks for the first day of school.

  5. Observations from the immediate area of the downed power lines.

    Approx 2:08 PM Sunday, an explosion rocked the neighborhood (transformer on a utility pole ?).  As a result, 2 power lines were down in the alley of the 1100 block of Oak.  The power for the neighborhood immediately went off, but surprisingly came back on within just a few minutes … and stayed on.  One of the power lines was hanging "harmlessly" in the trees, the other was on the ground, with the end lying between a wooden fence and adjacent garage.  That line was definitely still "live", the end was sputtering like a package of 4th of July sparklers.  That sputtering lasted only a few moments before the end of the downed line "erupted" into a roaring, glowing ball (about the size of a baskeball), of intense heat and light.  That continued for such a long time, that it eventually ignited the nearby wooden fence & garage — it also burned deep holes THRU the inches thick concrete of the alley.

    Yes, several neighbors called 911 at the sound of the 2:08 explosion, and AGAIN when that power line actually "erupted."  It was at least 15 minutes, however, before the 1st fire crew arrived on the scene.  WHY !?  But then they, and neighbors, just waited and watched, as first the fence then garage were ignited by the downed "live" line.  Nothing could be done to hose down the flames with water because the erupting power line was no more than a foot or so away from the fence and garage and … the power was STILL on !  Eventually, anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour after the initial explosion, ComEd finally cut the power and the flames were extinguished.  Absolutely, the property damage alone could have easily been much worse.

    Several questions surround this fiasco.  Why did it take so long for fire crews to respond ?  Why did it take so long for ComEd to cut the power ?  Who calls ComEd to cut the power in that kind of situation, the 911 dispatcher who receives the call of downed power lines, or the 1st fire/police personnel on the scene ?

    Waaaaay too long of a response time to an emergency situation by BOTH city crews and ComEd !!

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